daily painting | barbara, ree-ree

Barbara has been a model with the Bay Area Models Guild for 30 years. This was a quickie painting done of her exquisite face from the Zoom gallery during last weekend’s drawing marathon. Damn I wish I’d taken a secret and illegal screenshot of her pose so I could do it again! But this shows her character and essence, I think. She wore this marvelous sequined red hat and I found myself wishing I could hear all her modeling stories. Now, how to work in another sister story? Hm. Choppy segue here but I want to write about yesterday’s email exchange with Dawn, a life-long friend of my sister’s from childhood. Dawn wrote to me and my brother asking for a few more details about my sister Kay that she was curious about, like her name. As a kid, Kay (born Kathleen) had the nickname Ree-ree, which morphed into a few other ree-lated monikers (I crack myself up!). Never occurred to me to ask the origin story of that name, but since my brother was 11 years old when Kathy was born, he remembers stuff. He said that when Kathy was a tot learning how to talk, “ree-ree” was her way of saying “raisin” and it stuck. Funny how the small things that seem innocuous or even adorable can dissolve me into a soggy, mushy puddle. Which happened last night, under the full moon. A big wet mess up on my deck to match the accumulation of rainwater that caused the Christmas night leak, and a new year’s thanks to Vern who just left after flushing out the drain. And it’s likely my tear ducts will be leaking out my sorrow again soon. And that’s a good and healthy thing.

7″ x 7″ water-soluble graphite, pen on paper

 

 

 

daily painting | maker farm hoofer

A couple of days ago I grabbed my bike to get outdoors and try to outride the dark thoughts creeping in under my eyebrows. I enjoy riding down the estuary to where the shipping cranes on- and off-load the hulking, ocean-traveling ships. Such a funky, interesting mix of sights and scenes — the clanking of the primary-colored containers as they are loaded onto the ships, small sailboats dwarfed by enormous rust-stained hulls, maybe some cute little oystercatchers pecking at tidbits at the tide’s edge with their cartoony, orange beaks; a few folks living in their RVs, humans letting their pets loose at the dog run. It’s so splashy and unsanitized. Nearby is a fun nursery called Ploughshares, a collaborative operation and a good spot to buy plants for your garden and support the local community. I was delighted to ride past their spot and see folks with rakes cleaning up an open lot alongside backhoes moving dirt around, sheep chomping on composted refuse and piglets wrestling with each other in the mud. Turns out Maker Farm, which had been next door to my marina, found their new home. They let me come in the gate and photograph the activities, and this friendly and curious hoofer came over to say hello. It’s a kind of figure drawing, right? Sheepy, shaggy models. These unexpected and fun moments are such a relief from dodging grief bombs. Last night, while out on my deck, a Great Blue Heron swung around the corner of my house and flew within a few feet of me. I could hardly catch my breath, it was such a magnificent surprise. Beats hell out of dodging raindrops dripping through my ceiling onto my bed in the middle of the night, but that’s another adventure too boring to describe. A Christmas night wake-up, but it’s OK now. Moving soggily onward.

7.5″ x 7.5″ watercolor, pen, acrylic spats on paper = $75

 

 

 

daily painting | painting marathon

The Bay Area Models Guild has several drawing/painting marathons a year. Yesterday’s was the first one on Zoom and it worked great (I’ve gone to previous events held at Fort Mason in SF). Rather than roaming through various rooms looking for different kinds of models (and lengths of poses), I wandered through the Zoom gallery. It was great fun. Wasn’t sure I’d like it, but I miss painting the figure and yesterday satisfied a need I’d forgotten I had. It’s like a celebration of all kinds of shapes and sizes of bodies as well as a myriad of artists’ styles (I think 300 artists participated!). Life as a rich feast. Because in these days of quarantine I spend so much time alone (and it does get to me), seeing all those drawing and painting possibilities on my screen was delicious. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and painted for four of the five scheduled hours (no wonder I’m tired today!). It was a last-minute holiday gift (thank you Laurie Wigham for the announcement). I’ll post another pic tomorrow.

8″ x 8″ water-soluble graphite, pen on paper

 

 

 

daily painting | horsey memories

Ok today is blast-from-the-past Christmas Eve blog day. I did this painting years ago, from a photo I took of a happy trip to the Rockies to ride horses one summer. Had a ball (I think my friend Diane bought this painting?). Anyways, 10 years or so ago, after my life-changing event of attending an art workshop at Esalen where I was encouraged by the teacher to take myself seriously as an artist, I had to choose — art or horses? Art won. No regrets, but I miss riding. Yesterday a dear old friend from those days came by to buy several of my Emily Weil art masks. Haven’t seen her in eons; we rode horses out of the same barn in the Oakland hills. I asked her when she came by to please bring a horse — if not a horse, then could she please rub some horseshit in her hair so I could enjoy the memory-laden aromas? She brought me a ziplock bag of straw and manure mucked out from the stalls. It properly stunk, and was wonderful. Best Christmas present ever as it brought belly laughs and a wonderful visit with an old barn friend. Thank you, Jamin. It made me appreciate the different chunks of my life that I have experienced through the years, from horses to painting to traveling the world to raising kids in Oregon to the bumpy road of healing childhood wounds to life on a houseboat. What a damn ride this is! And I’m still vertical (even if listing to the starboard side).

6″ x 9″ watercolor paper

 

 

 

daily painting | christmas satsuma

This time of year brings oodles of these tangerines to grocery stores with their puckered, wrinkly shapes. I snagged a few of these from the local produce market — the antithesis of the perfect sphere of a navel orange. I love how easy they peel and their sweet juiciness. I was wanting to do a quickie the other day so I got out my small watercolor sketchbook and did a few versions of this solitary guy. Which reminds me! [I love this story]. A million years ago in an art workshop, the teacher had put a bowl of oranges at our work table for snacks. As we worked on our drawings and paintings, an elderly woman in the group reminisced about being a small child in post-WWII bombed-out Berlin when the citizens were starving, suffering from blockades and sanctions. The Americans began the Berlin Airlift, dropping food and supplies to starving Germans. This lovely woman remembers the utter joy of running after the parachuted bundle and finding juicy oranges. She said she never takes food for granted, especially such wonders as succulent fresh fruit. I was so humbled by her story, for as a privileged American I’ve never run from bombs, been herded into refugee camps, fled from war across an ocean or suffered from the war-ravages of hunger. I’ll always remember that kindly woman and how she helped me be a bit more grateful.

3.5″ x 5.5″ watercolor, pen on paper

 

 

 

daily painting | nancy’s hydrangeas

As I was Photoshopping this image of today’s daily painting and saving it (you have to clean up photos taken of paintings, no matter what), I cracked up looking at the list of files on my hard drive that start with, “Nancy’s.” It’s because of the amazing things that grow in my friend and fellow gramma’s San Diego yard — pomegranates and gardenias and figs and then these guys. Took a photo of her hydrangeas when there last summer; in winter I root through photos for subject matter (was hoping for grocery delivery sooner today so I could pluck out fresh produce and make a food arrangement still life, but, alas, no internet for half the day today which forced me to paint and put my feet up and read; I guess it was a good idea because my weeping last night left me this morning feeling like I got flattened by the grief bus). SO. Putting asides aside, I was not unhappy to be a homebody today with my paints. It cheered me to create puddles of purple and pink paint for these lovely flowers. I didn’t even feel skitchy today as I often do these days with nervous loneliness and cabin fever. Something about kicking back with my book in the middle of the day felt naughty. I liked it. Especially with a full view of the finches and towhees at the bird feeder. These things boost my sore heart, as did washing up my dishes this morning — I filled a pan with soapy water and the floating bubbles made the shape of a heart. Made me cry. Messages from something bigger than I am, helping me through these days of pain and healing, and boosting my faith and trust. I’ll be OK. We’ll be OK. We’ve made it this far.

10″ x 10″ watercolor, pen on paper = $130

 

 

 

daily painting | smudgy trumpets

Searching for subject matter, I found a photo of this trumpet vine that grows outside my studio. Played with watercolor, was dissatisfied, added pastel, added acrylic pen and more pastel and then just said oh hell I’m going to have at it with the chalky, brightly colored sticks and smudge this thing into a pink, hot mess. It’s satisfying just to let go and forget about end results. Sometimes that makes for a good painting. Sometimes not. My mind’s not made up about this one, but my dark moods these days obscure my perceptions. Yesterday, though, offered relief and peace and those moments really sparkle against the murky grays of my grief — it was the 15th anniversary of my mom’s death, and my sweet brother and I went to the beach to visit and reminisce about our family. It was comforting to be in agreement as we reflected on our experiences with mom and dad and to love and console each other as we watched the surfers at Rodeo Beach, spotted dolphins foraging for lunch, soaked up the sunshine, remembered summer vacations as kids, and mainly just appreciated being together as the numbers of our sibs dwindle. So soothing to my sore heart.

7″ x 10″ watercolor, pen on paper